A Humble Heart Above All

6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before him.

7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.

10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.

11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.

12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Sam. 16:6-13

The other day my wife confronted me about something I had done and I owned up immediately. I said, “Yes, what I said was wrong, please forgive me.”

My wife almost fell down with shock. Being a good reader of my wife’s mind, I could see she was thinking that probably the rapture had occurred without her knowledge and that we were now living in the millennium. She is so used to me defending myself whenever I am confronted that what I had just said was simply inconceivable to her in the old world. But on this ocssion she searched my face and she realized it was real.

What she did not know was that when she came at me, I was prepared. I had been reading about David, the man who made ghastly mistakes but was quick to own up. And David’s heart and life had challenged me greatly.

We can hardly claim to know what God knows, even about ourselves. The Apostle Paul tells us:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)

Here Paul is saying that it is only when we get to heaven that we shall know things as God knows them.

That said, it stands to the test that we do not know men’s hearts as God knows them. We need to die more to self to arrive at this point. But many today do not want to know the cross of Christ. That is why today men are so full of empty praises. They love praising the mighty and looking down upon the lowly. But if we truly knew people’s hearts, especially with regard to how God sees them, we wouldn’t be so fast with our praising of some and our despising of others.

When Jesse’s sons began passing in front of Samuel, he looked on the outside. Is that not so much like us? We gauge, judge and categorise people based on what we see on the outside. For this reason, men therefore prepare themselves more on the outside than on the inside because everyone’s attention is on the outside; and, in our natural state, we crave men’s praise more than anything.

The seven sons whom Jesse made to pass before Samuel had better qualifications than David in the natural. They were of a better countenance and stature.

Under the new covenant, we could be better men by all standards; but God is not looking for just any standard. We could be better preachers, but God is not looking for good preachers. We may be great singers, but God is not looking for great singers. We may be men and women who do everything right. But God is not looking for people who do not make mistakes. David made the biggest mistake that any man under the sun could make.

But God is not looking for any of these things. God is looking for a heart. And having the kind of heart that God is looking for is the biggest challenge that any man or woman could face.

So what kind of heart did David have? What kind of heart did he have that set him apart from his brothers? What kind of heart did he have which made God to say to Samuel,

“Arise, anoint him: for this is he.”

The answer is to be found in 2 Samuel chapter 12. The answer lies in David’s attitude when he was confronted. He had sinned, and when he was confronted by God’s servant Nathan, David said simply,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (v.13)

David did not rise up to defend himself. He did not even try to offer an explanation. In other words, he did not give God any conditions. He owned up fully to his sin.

That is the hardest thing with us. The minute we get confronted, our defense mode kicks in. Even if we admit our guilt, we still try to offer up an explanation. But this attitude of heart is of the flesh, not of the Spirit of God. Even when wrongly accused by men, Jesus did not defend himself.

If you want to know that you have the kind of heart that God desires, it is when you desist from defending yourself. That is the humble heart that God desires us to have. That is the heart of faith.

God is therefore not looking to the many great things that we can do. He is looking for a humble heart, one that can quickly fall down, confess, admit and repent. One that can allow itself to be trampled under. We see all this with David especially in his difficult relationship with King Saul.

We may not have many qualifications in the natural. We may not even be gifted with many gifts in the Spirit. But we can all have a humble heart, and this is what pleases God most.

In the Psalms, King David wrote about the relationship that God has with people who have a humble heart. In Psalms 34:18, he wrote:

“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”

And in Psalms 51:17, he wrote:

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

[… for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.]

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Photo courtesy of Carol Lanthier

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No Righteousness Of Our Own!

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Lk. 18:9-14

A brother said to me, “I have been saved 20 years, but this morning I woke up with the strangest feeling in my heart. I had this strange desire to say only one thing to God: ‘Lord, here I stand before you, a sinner.’ So I got out from my bed and knelt down and spoke to God those very words. The thought so pressed upon my heart that I was unable to say anything else. I kept saying, ‘Lord, here I stand before you, a sinner.’ And then… the most amazing thing happened. I felt this deep peace and joy within me like I have never felt before in my life!”

I said to the brother, “Actually, what you did was Biblical. Jesus praised the man who said those same words.”

I thought, ‘At 20 years old in our salvation, most of us cannot mouth the words, “I am a sinner.” Nor, “Forgive me”’.

Most of us hold arrogantly to our ‘righteousness’, and we end up self-justifying ourselves and despising others, like this Pharisee. This is especially so if we allow our thoughts to lead us to think we are of value to God in some way. If, for example, we have been saved for a long time, we tend to justify ourselves. We think that with the passage of time, we have become more righteous. But time does not justify us before God. What justifies us is our continued dependence on the righteousness of Christ Himself. That means that at no single moment are we allowed to lose sight of Jesus.

Just to pull the scope further on our attitudes, it is the same when we find ourselves taking up responsibility in church duties (I wouldn’t call them spiritual duties, for our spiritual duty is one: to die to the flesh).

When we become ‘something’ in the church, we think that justifies us before God. Today, some of the most brazenly arrogant people in church are church leaders, including preachers. On another level, people even boast in their hearts because they can pray more hours than others! They are even called ‘prayer warriors’. This same attitude goes for singers, etc.

But these are exactly the kind of attitudes that we ought not to have in our relationship with God. They are all of the flesh, and God hates the flesh. In ourselves, we are not righteous and we are not good. We are lousy and despicable when we are held up to God’s righteousness. It is not a matter of how long we have been saved, nor how good we have tried to be. On the contrary, it is a matter of humbling ourselves and realizing that we are, after all, nothing but sinners who need God’s forgiveness and mercy upon our lives, daily. We come away justified before God when we constantly walk before Him with this kind of attitude.

It is the heart! You can be anything; but watch your heart. Do not ever, ever allow it to rise up. Always make sure your heart keeps a low profile, for your justifier, Jesus Christ, is already standing tall for you.

To Dwell With God

1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

2 For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

3 He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. Is. 66:1-3

I once heard the preacher of a large mega-church, as he was preparing to deliver a sermon, say to his congregation, “The Lord sent me here to feed someone this morning. I have been hand-selected; I have been divinely picked; I have been Holy Ghost- anointed; I have been designated for this time… I will not fail you!”

I said, “Wow!!” That sounded heretical to me and it did not appear as if this man had ever read God’s words here:

“… to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

But… The man was strutting all over the podium and the people were so overcome with emotion that, if God Himself had dropped in and said to that preacher, “Could you please stop talking and go sit down for a minute”, there would have been a riot in that church.

Anyways…

You would be forgiven to think that at my age it would be extremely difficult for one to decide who their best friend, or the person they love most, is. Indeed, it is. I have so many people who are incredibly close to me, so many whom my heart yearns for in the Lord; so many who have sacrificed so much for me. There are literally thousands of people who vie for the No. 1 slot in my heart.

But, still, I know with God the answer comes easily enough if you were to ask Him who He loves most. God loves a man who has a humble heart. I personally know of many such people. But today I will talk of only one such person. Actually, this man lives with me right here in Singida. I have come to love this man with all my heart. And my love for him is not because of his proximity to me. No. I love him for the same reason that God loves him.

This man is one of the pastors with whom I work here. Not too long after this pastor heard the gospel of the cross, his small church and our small church decided to merge together in order to save on the rent we were paying and in time have enough money to buy a church plot. One of the brothers in his church had given out a part of his plot where they have put up a half finished structure. This semi-finished building has no roof and they have to put up tarpaulins at every service to provide the shade from the sun.

When some of the pastors in town heard that we were merging churches, they ‘prophesied’ our doom. They said, “You will not last even a month together.”

But the men who have opened their hearts to the gospel of the cross here in Singida have seen something in the Spirit, and I already had a lot of respect for this particular brother. But one day, not too long ago, he did something that broke all bounds in my esteem for him. He stood up in church – his church – and said, “Ever since I heard the gospel of the cross I have felt myself only getting smaller and smaller; and I have desired to become smaller still. And I have arrived at a place where all I feel I am worthy to do in this church is to put up the tarpaulins and to bring them down after the service. I have therefore asked my fellow pastors to put me off preaching for now.”

It was not just the words he spoke; but the power of a broken spirit that attended them. Now, if there is anything that has power in the Spirit, it is a man or woman who is broken in the Spirit. You could be “handpicked” for all we know, but if you do not have a humble and contrite spirit, you have no power in the Spirit.

Not a soul moved when this pastor made this announcement. There was deathly quiet as we weighed in on the pride in our hearts after hearing these words from this simple man.

A humble heart has respect with God above anything else; therefore God dwells with a humble heart (Is. 57:15). This translates into the fact that God’s power is manifested in the humble spirit.

Notice in our key scripture above that there is nothing you can really do to ‘surprise’ God. God says:

“The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool”.

Just imagine: Heaven is God’s throne and the earth is His footstool. Now, if heaven is God’s throne, and earth merely His footstool, where are His upper body and head; in what ‘sphere’ do they reside?? And, pray, what can a mere earthling really do to surprise or please such a God?

Apparently, this pastor in Singida had stumbled upon the answer. It is humility of heart. We serve God with our humble hearts. That only, and nothing else. Thank God He does not look to the apostle, the prophet and to the many ‘mighty men of God’. On the contrary, He says:

“… but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”

That’s simple and clear.

This pastor’s words: “All I feel I am worthy to do in this church is to put up the tarpaulins and to bring them down after the service” are branded on my heart as if with a hot iron. And I am sure they are equally branded in the hearts of those who heard him speak that day.

[A distant view of Mt. Kilimanjaro from the east]

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Reflection

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Rom. 12:16

One of the greatest lessons I have learned in life is how insignificant I really am.

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Two Lessons – Part 2

1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Gal. 2:1-10

Notice, in verses 7 through 9, the two things that the apostles in Jerusalem saw in Paul: they perceived and acknowledged that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto him; and they also saw and acknowledged the grace that was given unto Paul.

This spirit of humility is very important for the church. The end goal for the church should be unity in the Spirit. Unity in the Spirit cannot be achieved where there is no humility. Had the apostles in Jerusalem not been able to see in the Spirit and had they told Paul: “You are a novice in this ministry, what can you tell us?”, the end result would have been a divided church right from the start, and there is no telling where that would have led to.

That is why we need to hail the early apostles as heroes of faith. Not only on account of the miracles that they performed, but more so for their humility. Humility always attends true faith. It is for this same reason that King David is a great man in the Bible. David did one of the most horrific sins recorded in the Bible; yet right to the end he was God’s favorite. How come? It was because David had a humble heart.

It was through this humility that the apostles could recognize Paul for who he was in the Spirit. It was also through this same humility that both Paul and these men could agree on one of the most important pillars of true Christianity: to remember the poor.

Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (v.10)

In ministry, we must remember the poor. Remembering the poor is central to our Christian faith. We can learn from the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In John 13:29, we read:

“For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.”

This scripture clearly shows that Jesus ministered to the poor financially. (We know from other accounts that Jesus ministered physically and materially to the people He preached to.)

What about the Apostle Paul? Paul tells the Corinthians;

“I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service.” (2 Cor. 11:8)

Today there are men of God who rob God’s people to enrich themselves and to live comfortable lives. There is no way you are going to convince me that a Bentley or a Hummer or a 2000-dollar suit is for ministry. Which proves that even the private jets used by modern preachers are not really for ministry.

There is no place for this kind of lifestyle in the Bible. Paul did not “rob” other churches to enrich himself. But, as we see in 2 Corithinans 8, he took the money he got from the more affluent churches to serve the less fortunate ones. This was to fulfill what th scripture says:

“… he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack” (Ex. 16:18).

As of Paul’s own life, on the contrary, we read of his and his fellow apostles’ lives thus:

“11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 and labour, working with our own hands…” (1 Cor. 4:11-12)

True apostolic ministry will always look out for the poor. That is why the early apostles, who were true men of God, could concur and exhort each other to “remember the poor”. With these men, you would not hear such immature references to the poor as “lazy”, etc.

The long and short of it is that a gospel that does not mind the poor is a dead gospel. Whatever the Bible writes it writes to show us the heart of God. In this singular scripture, it is easy to see God’s heart for the poor and downtrodden people of this world.

Why should we “remember the poor”? It is primarily because nothing in this world is worth a person’s soul. No amount of money that you can hoard in your pocket or bank account can compare with the value of a human soul. Money – or, rather, the love of it – should not hinder us from serving the poor. In serving the poor, we serve God.

The Humility of Naaman

Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. 2 Ki. 5:14

This is the story of Naaman.

But first… There is a popular story from one of the tribes in our country about a certain elderly man. The story goes that one day, as this man was out herding his cattle in the fields, one of his cows gave birth to a calf. By the time he was ready to take his cattle back home, the new-born calf was strong enough to stand on its own and move about.

The man began walking his cattle home; but now the cow and her young calf would not move from the place they were. The mother’s attention was fixated entirely on her calf, while the calf was entangled about his mother’s legs seeking for her teat. The result was that, as the man tried to shoo both the cow and her calf home, they instead kept turning about in circles.

The man got angry and he began to beat the cow with his herding stick. He kept on beating her mercilessly. By this time, the rest of the herd had put a considerable distance between themselves and the man and his cow. His got more exasperated and he beat the cow even more ruthlessly.

At about that time, a small boy who was about twelve years old came upon the old man punishing his cow. The man was beating the poor beast as if he was on the warpath. The boy observed him for a while. Then he walked up to him and said,

“Excuse me, Sir. Please, Sir, if you would take the calf and carry him in your arms, the mother will follow along.”

The man considered the distance the rest of the herd had moved on and made up his mind. Without further ado, he took the new-born calf in his arms and, to his surprise, the minute he began walking away, the cow swiftly followed along, mooing loudly.

When the man reached home, everyone in his household was surprised to hear him complaining loudly that he could not allow himself to be shamed by a little boy. He kept repeating these words over and over again. As he spoke, he moved about in fast, furious motions, and it was clear to everyone that something deeply unsettling had happened to him. Of course, with the disposition that he was in at that particular moment, no one dared ask him what had befallen him. All they knew was that the father of the house was breathing murder.

Soon afterwards, his lifeless body was found dangling on a rope from one of the trees in his compound. The man, in a blind rage, had gone off and hanged himself.

Later, after the facts had been gathered together, it emerged that the man had hanged himself simply because a small boy had “taught” him how to do something right. This elderly man decided he could not live with such an affront to his pride and he took his own life.

In 2 Kings chapter 5 we read about Naaman, a captain of the Syrian army. The Bible declares about Naaman that he was

“a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.” (2 Ki. 5:2)

Notice that Naaman had achieved his many victories by the hand of the LORD. That little fact is central to our lesson here. But, as we shall see later, though it be of the Lord, it is not the doing that is important with God; rather, it is the attitude of our hearts.

Although Naaman was a great and mighty warrior, yet he was a leper. Despite all his victories and all his glory, Naaman had no joy in his life. So he went down to Israel for he had heard that he could receive healing of his leprosy there. But he was a proud man and when he arrived in Israel he met with a series of events that progressively undermined his pride. The final insult was when the Israelite prophet, Elisha, instructed him to go dip himself in the muddy waters of the Jordan seven times and he would be healed. Naaman decided he had had enough and he turned to go back home.

But praise God, Naaman had servants who truly loved him. They came up to him and besought him, saying:

“My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (v.13)

At which Naaman hearkened to them.

“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”

I have heard songs sang saying, “Speak, Lord! Speak, Lord”, etc., meaning those singing them are ready to obey God at the touch of a button. This imaginary readiness comes about because people have a romantic view of God and of His calling.

But there is nothing romantic about the call of God upon one’s life. The call of God to obey Him is one of the most difficult things in our lives, simply because it of necessity touches our pride. We are born with the seed of pride in us.  It is good and OK to sing out our eagerness to obey God, but remember the devil also sang (as all angels do); but still he allowed pride tot come into his heart, and he ultimately rebelled against God.

Moreover, according to the lesson that we learn in the story of Naaman, you can do many extraordinary things for the Lord but still be proud. That is why there are many men of God who do miracles and wonders in Jesus’ name, but they have pride in their hearts and are burdened with sin in their hearts. Jesus said of these people that He will tell them on the last day:

“I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mat. 7:23)

It is not the doing; rather, it is the attitude of our hearts that is important with God. God had to heal Naaman of his pride first before He would heal his body.

The Bible says in Romans 8:7:

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

Pride breeds anger and every other work of the flesh and it is incapable of doing the will of God. Ultimately, it brings death upon its bearer.

That is why we need to crucify the flesh, or the carnal mind. Without crucifying our flesh we cannot truly obey, or please God.

No man got to learn this lesson first-hand than Naaman himself. He had set out to ‘obey’ God on his own terms, where his pride would remain untouched. But God brutally turned the tables on him, and he was left to decide whether he would obey God on God’s terms or not. His healing lay in that single fact. He had to choose between nursing his pride or rejecting it and receiving the healing for his body.

That was under the old covenant. Under the new, the gospel has to do with the healing of our souls. We therefore have to choose between defending our pride and receiving God’s eternal life.

Ultimately, Naaman’s spiritual legacy lay, not in the many victories that he won on the battle field (although it was the LORD Himself who wrought these victories through him). Rather, he will be remembered in eternity on account of his conversion through humbling himself.

“15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel… thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. 18 In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. 19 And he said unto him, Go in peace.” (2 Ki. 5:15-19)

[Below: Obedience is key to receiving eternal life]

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The Humility of Zacchaeus -Part 1

1 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.

2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich.

3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.

5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.

7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.

8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.

9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Lk. 19:1-9

I had set out to write about Zaccheaus, but things sort of got out of hand…

I am convinced in my heart that God has a special place for the man with a humble heart. Above all things, I am convinced, God hates a proud heart. And I believe it is the same with us. Consider the murderer who can say, “I am sorry” and mean it. Most of us would look at such a man with a different eye. Nearly every sin is forgivable if the perpetrator can show enough remorse.

With God, of course, it is much more so. Think about the case of David and Uriah in 2 Samuel 11. David did what no man ought ever to do – he slept with another man’s wife and, to cover up his crime, he had that man killed. Moreover, after Uriah was killed, David sent and had the man’s wife brought to him and David took her and made her his wife. I often wonder what any of us righteous people would have done to David had we been in God’s place. I will leave that to your imagination.

But God, who is infinitely more righteous than we, planned on doing worse than any of us could have conceived. He planned to kill David among a host of other things that He intended to punish him with.

But the Bible says that, upon hearing from the Prophet Nathan the sentence that God had passed upon him, David humbled himself before the Lord and declared,

“I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Sam. 12:13)

The difference between God and us is that God is quick to let go of His anger. Upon hearing David’s humble reply, the Bible says:

“And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

It was that quick with God. God is not quick to anger as we are. On the contrary, He is quick to show mercy to a repentant heart.

The word “also” here means that God hearkened to David when He saw David’s humility. He regarded David with a merciful heart.

I am also reminded of another Israelite king. This king’s name was Manasseh. Let us see how totally evil this man was.

“1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: 2 But did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. 3 For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. 4 Also he built altars in the house of the LORD, whereof the LORD had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever. 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. 7 And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: 8 Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. 9 So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the LORD spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken.”

2 Kings 21:16 adds:

Moreover Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.”

But on reading the account in 2 Chronicles further we find something else, something different about this king:

11 Wherefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God. 14 Now after this he built a wall without the city of David, on the west side of Gihon, in the valley, even to the entering in at the fish gate, and compassed about Ophel, and raised it up a very great height, and put captains of war in all the fenced cities of Judah. 15 And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the LORD, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city. 16 And he repaired the altar of the LORD, and sacrificed thereon peace offerings and thank offerings, and commanded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel. 17 Nevertheless the people did sacrifice still in the high places, yet unto the LORD their God only. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh, and his prayer unto his God, and the words of the seers that spake to him in the name of the LORD God of Israel, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel. 19 His prayer also, and how God was intreated of him, and all his sin, and his trespass, and the places wherein he built high places, and set up groves and graven images, before he was humbled: behold, they are written among the sayings of the seers. 20 So Manasseh slept with his fathers, and they buried him in his own house: and Amon his son reigned in his stead.” (2 Chron. 33:1-20)

I used to wonder why God would allow such an evil king to reign for 55 years. That’s way too long for such a horrible man!

But then I realized that Manasseh actually reigned two terms in Israel. During his first reign he did all that evil. Eventually, God caught up with him and He had him pay for his folly by banishing him into exile. While in exile, though, the Bible says of this king:

“12 And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God.” (2 Chron. 33:12-13)

God heard Manasseh’s humble cry and, in spite of the fact that he had done so much wickedness against God, God reinstated him to the throne, and Manasseh reigned for another term where he restored nearly all the work of the Lord that he had torn down during his first reign.

Yes, God does indeed have a soft spot for the man with a humble heart.

[Below: God shows great mercy to the repentant in heart]

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